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TDE2012 – day 2: first taste of the red line > Aix-Les-Bains > Privas

the hotel certainly has seen better days. i’m by far the youngest eating breakfast and even jc says that the people here are too old for his liking!

the key to a hotel which has seen its best days long ago!

the key to a hotel which has seen its best days long ago!

in it's heyday, surely a very nice place!

in it’s heyday, surely a very nice place!

this does not disturb us however, for us it is the first day trying to stick to the pre-planned line and our first challenge is to climb from 300m to over 1500m within 14kms.

le mont du chat beckons... hairpin bends à gogo!

le mont du chat beckons… hairpin bends à gogo!

le mont du chat, waits for us with 14% and stunning views. motor temperature soars but we make it to the summit just in time before we would have had to stop for overheating.

we made it!

we made it!

at the top, we have a near-360° view of mont blanc and the hills of la haute savoie. as soon as we stop anywhere – as everywhere outside of Switzerland – we have immediately people asking us questions about the TWIKE and sustainable mobility > lucky us that we both speak French fluently!

le mont du chat, aix-les-bains

le mont du chat, aix-les-bains

we descend from 1500m and settle into a very nice routine of driving along very small roads barely allowing for a car and a TWIKE to cross from sleepy village to sleepy village. the virtual blue line along which our real-world road-based red line winds itself towards spain keeps us climbing hilltop after hilltop and we really like the panoramic vistas we get every 15 mins or so.

our single lane road diet - we do cross the motorway from time to time...

our single lane road diet – we do cross the motorway from time to time…

another hill, another vista! too impressive not to stop...

another hill, another vista! too impressive not to stop…

we charge at a local fire fighter base and are allowed to stay inside with staff and learn about the different tasks they take on during a typical week (rescuing cats to putting out fires to cutting people from cars).

charging at the fire department

charging at the fire department

even we remember the ones that died fighting fires!

even we remember the ones that died fighting fires!

fire department charging

fire department charging

the landscape is very green with the occasional patch of golden wheat or sunflowers. we drive on small one lane roads from farm to small village to farm. very, very beautiful & relaxing!

rolling hills day2

rolling hills day2

which road shall we take?

which road shall we take?

eventually, the hills flatten out and we make some good distance towards valence.

an engergy company got the message...

an engergy company got the message…

sad to happy!

sad to happy!

since we don’t like staying in larger cities, I searched online for a “chambre d’hôtes” and found one in an ancient mill with just 3 rooms and the commentaries saying that the lady who runs the place makes most of her food from produce grown on-site! …definitely our type of place.

luckily we drive at low speeds!

luckily we drive at low speeds!

you always need one!

you always need one!

privas turns out to be a very small and quaint village way up a hill outside valence and jc was extremely nervous when his gauge showed 0% battery charge left, but trusted me when I said that the voltage displayed suggested that he still had enough juice left -> there was enough left and we arrived at a very nice and old place tucked away in a small valley outside of privas. unsurprisingly the building was just beside a large stream. this added a very soothing background to the overall very quiet cricket background noise.

above prives

above prives

we settled in and then walked to privas, an incredibly typical French village. imagine the most typical French setting you can – church, square, some small shops, 2 very small restaurants, one of them aptly called “le petit resto”, some tables outside, large trees giving some shade, large veranda doors to small balconies on the first floor, buildings with high ceilings and many relaxed locals minding their business and chatting – now multiply that by 2 and you get privas!

after some very tasty food we head back to our old mill and each fall asleep very quickly.